Grandi leads team effort
After a promising World Cup stretch in North America, including a history-making podium at Lake Louise, the Canadian Alpine Ski Team landed in Italy last week with high hopes.
Things went well in the beginning, with both men and women excelling on a challenging giant slalom course in Alta Badia, Italy.
The womens team raced first on Dec. 13, tackling a World Cup course that is traditionally reserved for the men.
Two Canadians finished in the top-15, with Nanaimos Allison Forsyth leading the way.
She made a major mistake in her first run, but managed to recover to finish 22 nd and qualify for a second run.
"I made a huge mistake in the first run and lost at least a second there," said Forsyth. "After that it took a while to get it going again. To be honest I was pretty mad at myself. A mistake is a mistake. But I had the fifth-fastest split at the bottom so I knew I was skiing well."
Forsyth came back in the next run to jump up in the ranks and finish 11 th .
"After the first run, my attitude before might have been to give up, think that Im too far behind. But my attitude today after the first run was different. I was a bit angry. I thought I am better than that."
Forsyth, who earned a bronze in the giant slalom at the world championships last season, put her anger to good use and went out and posted the third-fastest second run of the day.
"I just went out like fire," said Forsyth. "I came out like lightning in the second run And I skied probably my best skiing of the year."
Her teammate Genevieve Simard of Val-Morin, Quebec, had the opposite day of Forsyth. The 23-year-old was solid in her first run, placing eighth. She had a few lapses on her second run that moved her back into 14 th position.
"I was really happy with my first run," said Simard. "The coaches made it clear in the first run you had to go all out and let it rip. I did that and it was really good, I was happy with how I skied.
"In the second run I had no other goal than to do exactly as I did in the first. I started well and then I started to make some mistakes. Thats costly on a hill like this. The World Cup field is strong so you cant make mistakes and do well."
Whistlers Britt Janyk, who is coming off a knee injury, finished 48 th .
"I skied well, but I gave the hill too much respect," she said. "Im frustrated with my run. I know I can be faster. I wasnt exactly holding back but I gave it too much respect and my time shows it."
Gail Kelly of Ste-Anges de Beauce, Quebec, was 51 st .
Although it was a tough course, the women were unanimous that the World Cup circuit needs more tough courses for the women.
The gold medal went to Denise Karbon of Italy, followed by Nicole Hosp and Elisabeth Goergl of Austria.
Grandi takes sixth place
Banff racer Thomas Grandi led the way for the Canadian men in Italy, following Forsyths lead and turning anger into results.
Disappointed by what he thought was a mediocre first run that left him in 25 th position, Grandi turned it up and posted the fastest second run of the day.
"I was disappointed this morning and that always makes me ski better," said Grandi. "When Im disappointed I get angry with myself. I knew I could ski better and my coaches knew I could ski better than I did this morning. I had to prove it to myself."
His second run was faster than the times posted by the reigning Olympic champion, the World Champion, and World Cup champion. It also put him in sixth place overall, a jump of 19 positions.
"I needed this to really get my season started," said the 31-year-old veteran. "I havent had a result in the World Cup yet this year so I needed this. A lot."
His teammates didnt fare as well. Jean-Philippe Roy of Ste-Flavie, Quebec started in 57 th , and moved up to 36 th . Julien Cousineau, still recovering from an eye injury occurred during a crash into a gate at Park City, was 51 st . Erik Guay of Mont Tremblant, who is coming off a silver medal in the downhill at Lake Louise, was 53 rd . Francois Bourque of New Richmond, Quebec did not finish.
The gold medal went to Kalle Palander of Finland, followed by Davide Simoncelli of Italy and Federic Covili of France.
Grandi lone qualifier in slalom
After wrapping up GS races at Alta Badia, Italy, the Canadian team moved down the road to a series of slalom races at Madonna di Campiglio.
Grandi was the sole qualifier from the mens team in the night slalom on Dec. 15, racing under the lights with thousands of fans cheering from the sidelines. After two runs he finished in 19 th place in the points, but not close enough to the podium for his liking.
"Of course Im not satisfied. But I needed to start somewhere in slalom. At least today I had a good feeling on my skis. I can definitely build on this," said Grandi.
Ivica Kostelic of Croatia took the gold medal, edging out Giorgio Rocca of Italy and Manfred Pranger of Austria.
None of the other Canadian men qualified for a second run.
On Dec. 16, the women went to work in the first of a pair of slaloms. None of the Canadian women, Allison Forsyth, Britt Janyk or Emily Brydon, qualified for a second run.
The win went to Anja Paerson of Sweden, followed by Laure Pequegnot of France and Nicole Hosp of Austria.
The Canadian women were frustrated once again on Dec. 17, when none of the athletes managed to qualify for a second run in the slalom. Janyk came closest, finishing the day in 40 th position.
Nicole Hosp of Austria took the gold, followed by Anja Paerson of Sweden and Marlies Schild of Austria.